Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Samhain-The Witches New Year

     Samhain, which is the Witches New Year, is celebrated on October 31st in most traditions, but some prefer to celebrate on November 1st.  Traditionally Samhain is one of the High holidays, or Greater Sabbats, and has its roots in ancient Celtic Pagan culture, and is sometimes called "THE" Great Sabbat.  Pagans consider Samhain to be the most magickal night of the year.  Samhain is the most important and least understood of all Celtic festivals.  In ancient Celtic times everyone was a Witch and everyone practiced Witchcraft.

     Contrary to popular belief, Samhain has nothing to do with evil practices or black magick.  Samhain is a time to reflect upon that which has passed and to prepare for the changes to come in the following year.  It is also a time to honor loved ones who have passed away in the previous year, and a time when they will move on to the next spiritual plane.  It is commonly believed that the "veil" between the two worlds will be lifted, allowing us the opportunity to communicate with our ancestors.  During Samhain, the Crone and her Aged Consort are honored and this is a time for Dark Magick and to honor the Dark Mysteries.  "Dark Magick" does not mean evil magick, just dark.  Witches observe this day as a religious festival and consider it to be a memorial day for their dead friends and family.

     On Samhain, Witches celebrate and perform rituals to keep anything negative from the past out of the future.  We cast spells to contact our deceased friends and family, and retrieve ancient knowledge.  Pagans dress for Samhain in costumes that reflect what we hope to achieve in the coming year; the costume can be construed as the Witch's New Year's Resolution.  We also celebrate this Sabbat by decorating our altars with pine cones, pumpkins, gourds, autumn leaves that we have collected and pictures of deceased love ones.  We also perform rituals of divination to predict the future, such as i-ching, tarot cards, runes, rods, etc. 

     Witches wear black robes for ritual on Samhain.  The colors orange and gold are thought to attract sunlight to the Wheel of the Year, and costumes that signify this are also appropriate.  Face painting can be practiced and glitter can be added to the paint.

     Food is also very important for the Samhain celebration.  Some of the more popular food choices are:  apples, pumpkin pie, beets, turnips, hazelnuts, corn, gingerbread, pomegranates, cider, herbal teas and pork dishes.  Some of the herbs associated with this sacred holiday are:  allspice berries, broom, catnip, mountain ash berries, mugwort, mullein, oak leaves, acorns, rosemary, sage, pine cones, straw.  Incense and oils used during Samhain are:  frankincense, basil, yarrow, lilac, ylang-ylang, clove and camphor. 

     The Goddesses that are appropriate for Samhain are: Hecate, Carlin, Edda, Pamona, Crobh Dearg, Lilith, Psyche, and the Morrigan.  Any other Crone Goddesses or Underworld Goddesses are also appropriate here.  And the Gods are:  Arawn, Dis, Kronos/Cronus, Xocatl, Woden, Pluto, Hades, and Nefertum.  Any Death Gods, Aged Gods, and Underworld Gods are also appropriate.  Animals and mystical creatures that can also be recognized during this holiday are: bats, cats, dogs, and goblins. 
     The Samhain altar will have colors of deep golds, scarlets, dark browns and bronze.  The candles on the altar will be black (to absorb negative energy), orange (to represent the magick of fire), white (to send out energy), and silver and gold to represent the moon and the sun.  Silver and gold candles on the altar also represent the Goddess and God.  Your altar candles should always be lit with altar matches.  The altar should also have a stone native to the region in which you live, should be placed on the altar.  You should also place an animal horn, feather, or talon to represent the final harvest.

     However you choose to celebrate Samhain is a personal decision and will vary depending on whether you are a solitary practitioner or a coven member. Whatever you choose, remember to be safe and enjoy the holiday.


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Starfire's Samhain Page

Blessed Be!

Lady Ariel

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